When I was 8, I wanted to be the first female pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Not because I loved the game, but because they told me it was possible.
When I was 10, my fifth grade teacher told me use my brain, to push harder, to go higher. I never doubted her, because they told me it was possible.
When I was 18, I planned a career in journalism, exposing stories of injustice. I assumed I would be paid the same any male colleague, because they told me it was possible.
Yet there were days and years in between in which I came to understand that in the real world, possible is very different from guaranteed. For so many of us, the possibilities given to those 8, 10, 18-year-olds turned out to be nothing more than lip-service, because our country was not set up for the possibles, let alone guarantees.
When I was in my early 20s, I watched Hillary Clinton enter the public stage. A woman who had been educated at a time when the seeds of those possibilities were being sown. A woman who came into the public eye with her own successful career. A woman who set off a maelstrom of controversy because of a comment about not wanting to stay home and bake cookies.
And there are those who still haven’t forgiven her for it.
You see, Hillary and the women of my generation, we did what they said. We played the game with the boys. Not our own game, but theirs. We played down and dirty. We wore shoulder pads, we busted balls, we often sacrificed our fertility in the process..because we were told it was possible. But the lives we were living proved otherwise.
We witnessed fight after fight to strip us of our right to control our own bodies. We were passed over for promotions, made to choose between a career and a family, vilified for making one choice or the other. We couldn’t even agree on baking cookies. Many times we were our own worst enemy, attacking each other with a volume to shatter wine glasses if not glass ceilings.
But you, you gorgeous young women who have grown up never doubting a woman could be president of the United States of America, please understand we have doubted it. And so I ask you to allow us this moment.
You may notice a lot of women over the age of 45 getting sappy, crying at what has recently come to pass. We are crying the tears of our grandmother suffragettes, our bra-burning mothers, our board-room bitch peers. And we are crying for you too, because we are one step further away from possible and one step closer to guaranteed.
So I ask you young women, please allow us this moment.
Nothing–nothing–makes me prouder than watching a generation of young women take gender equality, LGBTQ equality as part and parcel of their lives. Women who expect equal pay, bodily autonomy as a given right. Nothing makes me prouder than hearing how the local high school I attended has a gay/lesbian/transgender club for teens. Nothing makes me prouder than listening to today’s young women campaign passionately for further progress because they have been told it is possible..and it is.
But I ask you to allow us this moment to bask in what we were told was possible, but was never guaranteed, for all those days and months and years in between.
Allow us this moment of shine.
We are a generation that was promised a glass ceiling but often got a glass slipper as a consolation prize.
So allow us a moment while we listen to the crack in that glass echo around us.
And stand with us to break it once and for all, as we will stand with you on the other side, watching you soar.
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I know. I was one of those million. I said last night I cried like a girl. And by like a girl, I meant like the next President of the United States. How awesome is that?
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That was really nice, to the point, and poignant what Hillary said there at the end, to the girls watching. I hope they can continue to build the positivity around that, which has felt eclipsed by all the other noise. My girls were watching that too, and it was a lovely moment.
You know the funny thing is that I couldn’t stay up to watch the speeches last night. It was after 1 am, so I haven’t even seen it yet. I did watch Bill’s (while I was cooking) and obviously I’m a bit biased, but what a fantastic speech and endorsement.
Really, it’s past time that we recognize that 50% of the human species are just as good and capable as the other 50%. Evolution has shaped the two genders to be successful in the overall game of survival, so yes, males and females are different AND complementary. There’s only one thing a male can do and two things a female can do that the other can’t. That’s it.
That said, there are different perspectives we can bring which are the result of living in the societies we inhabit. My experience as a white, reasonably affluent older male is different from my wife’s experience, and different from my those of my non-white neighbours. That experience does colour our perceptions of what is possible and what can/should be. And yet, there is progress. My adult daughters are not having the same experiences as did my wife when she was their age(s). I’m not getting from them that they see many limitations preventing them from achieving their goals.
And yet, the “job” is not yet done. We need to get to the point where women don’t limit themselves due to lack of confidence. It’s been said that a woman can be 200% qualified for a position and still feel uncertain about applying for it, whereas a man with only 50% of the qualifications needed will think he’s perfectly qualified and deserving. I see this in my own family, when my wife, who is an educator with decades of experience, muses to me that she isn’t confident of applying for some new project or position. And yet, once she takes on the new challenge, she invariably excels, with her new students raving about the experience. Thankfully, I see less of that with my daughters, and they are more likely to grab at an opportunity without second-guessing themselves.
By showing that “we” can, we demonstrate the falsehood of “they can’t”.
I’m glad your daughters are having a different experience-but I also think it is important for all of us to remember that these changes are new and recent and hard fought for–that is–not to take them for granted or let our guard down (I speak of progressive changes not just for women, but for all minorities who have seen social changes in the last two decades). I suffer from the same apprehensions as your wife from time to time (hard to believe, but true!). I think a lot of it is gender related, but I do think some of it is generational as well. We were taught as a generation not to brag, to work hard, and to never assume we were entitled to anything. Good in many ways, not so great in others–especially as a woman. Keep using your experience of listening to OTHER people’s experience–it is the only way change will continue to happen.
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